Posts Tagged ‘Insects’

A Christmas Visitor

December 23, 2016

An Orange Ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata) appeared in the lounge yesterday, presumably from the locally sourced Sitka Spruce Christmas tree. Athough not associated with conifers in the summer, Stephen M tells me that many ‘non-conifer’ ladybirds take to the shelter of pines, spruce and juniper in the winter.

Richard recorded this one from Raasay but only from NG54 as far as I can tell.


October 23, 2016

John has spotted tomato plants growing out of the pavement in Portree:


Tomato in Portree            Photo: J Hawell

Today I went to take a photograph of Ruppia maritima (Beaked Tasselweed) at Oskaig for a forthcoming article as I did not seem to have one. It is looking a bit brown but otherwise pretty much as it would earlier in the year:


Ruppia maritima in late October

Crossing the road a little to the south of Oskaig, and >600m from open fresh water was  this fine female Black-bellied Diving Beetle (Dytiscus semisulcatus):

Richard recorded it on Raasay “very irregularly”.

Nothofagus alpina (Rauli), is a Southern Beech and ours has done rather well at autumn colour in the garden this year:


Rauli at night

In Memoriam Richard Moore

September 29, 2016

Sadly, Richard Moore, author of “The Beetles of the Isle of Raasay in the Inner Hebrides” has passed away. He first came to Raasay in 1972 and returned pretty much every year to record the beetle fauna.

Usually coming twice a year for several weeks and staying at Arnish, he had become part of the Raasay scene and will be much missed.

Almost single-handedly he took the list of Raasay beetles, which stood at 129 in 1983, to well over 700, the longest list for any island of the Inner Hebrides.

Fungi, Bugs and a Beetle

September 19, 2016

Steve has found this choke fungus near Broadford which is probably Epichloë typhina – though this “species” probably contains more than one entity. A specimen has gone to Kew for further investigation


Epichloe typhina                     Photo: S Terry

Meanwhile in my lawn this fruiting body appears to have turned itself inside-out.


I have trapped several bugs in the garden recently including Anthocoris nemorum, the Common Flower Bug. The books say it can pierce human flesh and I can testify to that – but it does help control aphids.


Anthocoris nemorum

A duller version which is well coated in erect hairs, Anthocoris sibiricus has only been recorded once in Britain – from Scalpay in the 1930s.

From further afield John has sent me an image of Carabus nitens, a fine, Nationally Scarce ground-beetle which he found on Ben Lomond.  Within the limits of the NBN gateway this appears to be only the second Scottish record in the years 2000-2016.


Carabus nitens        Photo: J Poulter

Thanks to Stephen Moran for insect determinations.

The last tetrad with 100% land and no records

August 26, 2016

Yesterday I went to NG34E in which part of the Edinbane wind-farm is located. It was the last tetrad in VC 104 with no records ever. It now has 122.

There are still four tetrads with 20 -80% land and no records, mostly a bit of a pain to get to, plus more with <7% land, and then there are tetrads with earlier records but none since before 2000 (nine with 100% land and five with >20% land).

The wind-farm roads added quite a few species such as Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s-purse), Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-ear), Spergularia rubra (Sand Spurrey) and Urtica dioica (Common Nettle). There was also a nice wet area with Comarum palustre (Marsh Cinquefoil), Menyanthes trifoliata (Bogbean) and Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed).

However, the tetrad to the west, NG24Z was less fun: lots of Molinia tussocks and not many plant species. In 2012 I recorded 74 taxa. After several hours in it yesterday that total has risen to 97.

It was a good day for insects, however. Heather Flies everywhere – this is their time of year – and several species each of butterflies, dragonflies and moths including this one which I have yet to sort out:

Moth NG2848

Also a lizard. I doubt if I shall ever get a photo of one, they skedaddle so fast.


Mullach Ben Sca and Crò nan Caorach

August 17, 2016

South-west of Edinbane a walk through the forestry plantation takes you to Crò nan Caorach and Mullach Ben Sca, the latter at a massive 210m above sea level.

First thing this morning, I thought I was off to two tetrads with previous records for 1 and 10 taxa. Checking what the one was, I discovered it was the result of an erroneous grid reference and so I had three rather than two tetrads left with 100% land and no records. I am now back to two.

It was a pleasant day with few plant records worthy of a more specific grid reference: Alnus incana (Grey Alder – planted but spreading), Spergularia rubra (Sand Spurrey), Malva moschata (Musk-mallow – a garden throw-out presumably, but known there for nine years now) and Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade).

Taxa counts are now 111 and 152.

There was also this fine Red Admiral on Senecio jacobaea (Common Ragwort). Whilst I see a few every year, they are never common here.

Red Admiral

and a leaf spot fungus on Lotus corniculatus (Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil):

Lotus corniculatus leaf spot

I noticed that a tetrad near Portree which I would drive through on the way home had only a couple of records. Twenty minutes along the roadside raised this to 90.


August 4, 2016

I have just spent three days across the water in the Applecross area, helping my colleague with records for Atlas 2020. I made 1347 records of 296 taxa – and I have a rose to send off for expert determination.

I also collected fungi for Bruce Ing’s Ross-shire fungus survey – two of the 10km squares I was in are very poorly recorded for fungi.  Mostly I collected infected leaves but there were also some toadstools e.g. (Thanks to Bruce for determinations):

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and reasonable numbers of butterflies, moths and other insects:

Emerald Damselfly

Emerald Damselfly

One of the things I was particularly hoping to re-find was Cladium mariscus (Great Fen-sedge) near Cuaig.  There was a fair amount – this being a section of the smaller population:

Cladium Cuaig 2

Cladium mariscus

Loch Coruisk

July 24, 2016

On Friday I took the boat from Elgol and had six hours at Loch Coruisk. The scenery was, of course, dramatic, but the plants largely confirmed the view that mountains that are good for mountaineers are not great for botanists.  Mind you, I did no climbing and there were a few things of note such as Salix phylicifolia (Tea-leaved Willow) which is known elsewhere near burns in NG42 but not in the south end where these were.

I also spotted four plants in NG41 that had not been recorded since before 2000 and two in NG42, though one of these was a tiny sapling of Viburnum opulus (Guelder-rose) which looks unlikely to survive the winter.

Some of the pools had these features in them which I imagine, perhaps rather fancifully, are caused by erupting gas from rotting vegetation:


The only rich area was near the Coruisk Memorial Hut where there were some relatively interesting cliffs and rocks, freshwater marsh and salt marsh. Here in tetrad NG41Z I found 127 species including some I hadn’t been expecting like Galeopsis tetrahit s.s. (Common Hemp-nettle) and Odontites vernus (Red Bartsia).

There was lots of Rosa spinosissima (Burnet Rose) growing in some of the freshwater beaches of Loch Coruisk and some actually in the river at its current level.

Rosa spin in river

Rosa spinosissima in Coruisk River

Some had this gall on it, caused by the gall wasp Diplolepis spinosissimae:

Diplolepis spinosissimae galls

D. spinosissimae galls

I found this a couple of years ago at Talisker Bay but there remain very few records on the NBN Gateway.

I also spotted these leaf mines on Lonicera periclymenum (Honeysuckle). The miners are yet to be definitively identified. Later: Murdo and I have agreed it is larvae of the Dipteran fly Chromatomyia aprilina based on the long streaks of frass. See British Leafminers page.

Raasay SSSI Part 4

July 20, 2016

Yesterday I completed the field work for this round of Site Condition Monitoring in the Raasay SSSI. The target species were Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens), Epipactis atrorubens (Dark-red Helleborine) and Pyrola rotundifolia (Round-leaved Wintergreen).

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This remains the only known site in VC 104 for Pyrola rotundifolia; as in most years there were no flowers.

In passing, during the day I spotted this slug:

Raasay slug 1

Deroceras reticulatum

(Thanks to Chris du Feu for the determination)

and a Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus):

Chorthippus parallelus Meadow Grasshopper

Meadow Grasshopper

I checked up on the Chara vulgaris (Common Stonewort) at its only known site in VC 104, here being grazed by a pond snail:

Chara vulgaris

Chara vulgaris

By contrast, Chara virgata (Delicate Stonewort) is widespread:

chara virgata map copy

Raasay, East of Arnish

June 13, 2016

It was ten years since I had last checked up on the Allium vineale (Wild Onion) on Sìthean Mòr. It looks much as it did in 1991 when I first found it and it remains the only known location in the vice-county.

Allium vineale Raasay

Allium vineale

Yesterday was a very pleasing day with lots of locally unusual but not rare plants such as Calamagrostis epigejos (Wood Small-reed), Carex otrubae (False Fox-sedge), Carex remota (Remote Sedge) and Vulpia bromoides (Squirreltail Fescue).

The butterflies are really out and about now with lots of Common Blues and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries.

There were quite a few moths too

plus other insects that I could identify like Common Green Grasshopper, Common Ground-hopper and Common Earwig. I don’t remember seeing a Ground-hopper on Raasay before but they are well camouflaged and leap quickly if disturbed.

There was a leaf mine on Sonchus asper (Prickly Sow-thistle) that I thought might lead to a useful record

Sonchus asper leaf mine In situ

but it turns out that there are two species of the dipteran genus Chromatomyia that might be responsible and the difference is visible only in interior details of the male genitalia so the only way to distinguish them is to rear the adult, hope for a male, and then have the skill and patience to check out the anatomy. Thanks for that, Murdo.